Comment by Gendo 6/29/23
The Heart Sutra speaks of form and emptiness. Logically, form and emptiness are opposites. But the Heart Sutra says that they are not different. The Heart Sutra starts off with this paradox.
Paradox is a matter of everyday experience. Golf champion Jordan Spieth says, “The hardest thing is to let go of winning.” The paradox is that in order to win, you have to let go of the idea of winning. You have to lose the idea of a winner to be one. You have to let go of the “anxiousness-to-get-there,” in order to get there. You have to forget yourself to bring full attention to this moment. Form is emptiness.
I sometimes encounter the paradox of trying to remember something. I can’t remember someone’s name, and get frustrated with myself for forgetting. If I stop trying so hard, stop feeling badly about myself, then (sometimes) the memory seems to bubble up by itself.
The situation has three aspects: plus (remember a name), minus (can’t remember) and self (preferring one over the other). “I” am trying to remember “that name.” The paradox is that trying to achieve all of plus and none of minus doesn’t work. Why? It turns out that we only know plus (winning, remembering) in relation to minus (losing, forgetting). We only become a winner by knowing what it means to lose. Self that wants one and not the other, plus, not minus, can’t get there, because to know plus is also to know minus. We only know day in relation to night.
The paradox is that in the moment of completion, self disappears. Then ‘golf-club-striking-ball’ just happens. ‘Remembering’ just happens. Some call it the hand of God. Buddhism calls it emptiness, or ‘true love,’ plus and minus empty of separate identity, the emptiness from which all distinctions are born. Emptiness is form.
All things are like this. Suffering is like this. To have none of suffering and all of joy is losing sight of the fact that joy and suffering are holding hands. Let go of the self that only wants one side, open the door to suffering and, low and behold, hidden there all along is some great joy.
Zen tradition concludes: “You cannot make an object of truth.” The object you fixate on is not the true object, not the whole picture. The self that tries to possess something is not the true self, not the whole picture. Truth is not found in the object or in the self identity, but rather in the relationship of plus and minus together. True love is relationship, “true” because it is “selfless,” “love” because it is all-inclusive.